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How a Specific Issue Order will protect school admission from an abusive ex


    The first quarter of the year is notoriously busy for school admissions as parents up and down the country vie to get their children into their first choice of primary or senior school. While the decision-making process should be a team effort between parents, whether or not they are together or separated, for many broken families, this time of year heralds a period of yet more stress and disharmony as abusive ex-partners try to continue exerting control by blocking decisions and imposing their own will. 

    Affordable Justice founder and solicitor Sue Sedgwick witnesses frequent attempts at the extreme control exerted by these perpetrators of domestic violence when working with women who are attempting to escape from their clutches. The decision about where children go to school is regularly used as a volatile issue in which perpetrators can inflict significant hurt and pain in an effort to continue their campaign of coercive control despite no longer being in a direct relationship with the mother. 

    Do you have shared parental responsibility? 

    While the final decision should always be in the interests of the child, more often than not, this important milestone is exploited by ex-partners as yet another form of coercive control. These women may have agreed to sharing parental responsibility as part of the negotiations in their attempt to escape from sometimes dangerous situations, and this good will has opened them, and their children, up to being vulnerable in other ways. Alternatively, the Court may have granted the other party parental responsibility, or they may have been granted it at the birth of the child, for example by virtue of being married to the child’s mother or named on the child’s birth certificate.” 

    Should you apply for a specific issue order? 

    It is at this time of year that Affordable Justice sees an increase in requests for Specific Issue Orders. This application can include requesting the Court’s input on making the final decision over where a child goes to school. The Court will base their decisions on what they believe to be in the child’s best interests, building an additional level of protection for the child and thereby for their primary carer. Often, this application is made in conjunction with an application for a Prohibited Steps Order, which places a block on a single issue, such as the ex-partner forging ahead with changing the school without the mother’s permission. 

    Too often, the reasons behind this derailment are not founded on any rational cause that can be solved through mediation but are simply overt acts of control,” continued Sue Sedgwick. “We have worked with thousands of women over the years and see a predictable trend in terms of abusive ex-partners exploiting the system, once again, for their own sense of control rather than considering the welfare of the child.” 

    Affordable Justice is a non-profit legal charity offering family law services to women for less than a third of the cost of traditional high street solicitors.